Product Design

TurboCAD through the Years

23 Jan, 2014 By: Roland Aldridge

Viewpoint: The release of the software’s 20th version inspires a longtime user and beta tester to reflect on its development — and its role in the success of his business.


As new versions came along, one after the other, I became increasingly productive. The parts tree arrived with version 8, offering for the first time a built-in history of 3D object construction. Then the ability to define movable holes via the Hole tool arrived in TurboCAD 12, so I could edit a 3D object rather than starting over each time. The holes could even be threaded! Now I was able to tell when my countersinks ran over the edge of a block. Blocks had appeared in version 3, allowing multiple instances of a part in a drawing without filling up memory, and I found out about them after exposing my ignorance on the beta testers' forum.

People on the TurboCAD user forums are very helpful — for example, someone once told me that you could use leaders rather than making callouts manually from lines, circles, and text. Suddenly assemblies became a lot easier!

Over the years, rendering tools got better and renders became better looking. At first you had to use two viewports to put a hidden line render over a ray tracing, but now you can do both at once. And finally, with TurboCAD 19, IMSI/Design introduced a 64-bit version, and I could make a complete assembly without crashing my computer.

When I worked for a large corporation, it would take an entire department several weeks to make the assembly drawings for an analyzer. I can now do it in a day or two, by myself, using TurboCAD. Of course I get a head start by reusing earlier models, but even so, the increase in productivity is incredible.

TurboCAD Today

TurboCAD 20 — I use the Pro version — brings a whole series of improvements. Most importantly, it appears the stability has improved; I don't get crashes. The Redsdk graphics are fast and reliable, and I no longer have to use the native draw capability. I can model an entire analyzer in 3D model space without worrying about memory limitations. I don't use the architectural or the parametric modeling capabilities, but the nonflashy, basic operations that I rely on seem to continually become more stable and responsive. The software just works — and that's the single most important feature of a CAD program!

Why TurboCAD?

Designers use CAD for two reasons: to design something and to communicate to others how to make what they designed. It is easy to get lost in the minutiae of making a perfect drawing, but at the end of the day, its sole purpose is to communicate clearly to the person who needs the information. TurboCAD offers the right level of sophistication to enable you to do both without an impossible learning curve or daunting price tag.

Of course, other CAD programs, such as AutoCAD, have always been options. Many years ago, my machinist used AutoCAD, so I spent a lot of time watching him use that software. It was apparent that the user interface of TurboCAD was much more intuitive than the Command line approach of AutoCAD at the time. I've had occasional problems with file export and import over the years, but nothing severe enough that it gave me a reason to switch. I also liked the fact that IMSI/Design was an upstart company, just like mine!

Design that used to require an entire engineering department now just takes one person and the right software. Add a web site that you can develop on the same PC, and now you have a company that can compete with the best — except that your overhead is nothing compared to those old-line behemoths.

Nowadays, my company is no longer located in a garage. It is a thriving small business with real employees, including a couple of engineers other than myself. Even as we grow, I'm still able to blow away my competition with better products, better prices, better service, and better delivery — and a lot of that is thanks to TurboCAD.

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About the Author: Roland Aldridge

Roland Aldridge

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